When you’ve finished reading the Bible, you should start from the beginning and read it again, because the Bible is the Word of God and it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).
The Bible is completely different
On one level the Bible is a book like any other: it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Therefore, you can read it like any other from start to finish, and so ask “what should I do when I’ve finished reading it?” However, in reality, the Bible is completely different from any other book in the world.
The Bible is the Word of God
This is because only the Bible is the Word of God, that is, the Bible is God’s own very words written down. For example, in the Old Testament many times the phrase “thus says the LORD” occurs (see e.g. Exodus 4:22; 1 Kings 11:31; Isaiah 7:7). Or, in the New Testament we read in Acts 4:24-25: “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit…” and then the rest of the verse quotes from Psalm 2. In other words, Psalm 2 was ultimately written by God Himself. Indeed according to 2 Timothy 3:16 “all Scripture is God-breathed…” In this verse the word “Scripture” refers to the Old Testament, but in 2 Peter 3:16 Peter puts Paul’s letters alongside “other Scriptures” [i.e. the Old Testament], thereby including them as Scripture. Indeed, based on verses like John 14:26 and 16:12-15 (where Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will remind the apostles and teach them) we can say that the New Testament is also Scripture; that it is God’s Word.
We hear God Himself speaking
As God’s Word, the Bible is unlike any other book ever written – it is not an object to be analyzed and dissected, but rather when we read the Bible (or hear it faithfully taught) we hear God Himself speaking to us and addressing us. Let me give an example.
Listen to Gods voice
In the book of Exodus in chapter 17, Israel complains to Moses that they’ve not got any water to drink. Moses prays to the LORD, and the LORD tells Moses to strike the rock and that water will come out of it (Exodus 17:1-6). Verse 7 concludes with Moses calling that place “Massah” and “Meribah,” which mean “testing” and “quarreling” respectively, because Israel tested the LORD and grumbled against Him. When Moses first wrote Exodus, and an Israelite read these verses, they should have encouraged them to listen to God, and to trust and not doubt Him.
Interestingly, Psalm 95:8-11 picks up on this incident in Israel’s history, and makes the same application: “today, if you hear His [God’s] voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the dessert…” In other words, when Psalm 95 was written, God was saying the exact same thing to those hearers as He was when Moses wrote Exodus 17.
Not only this, but Hebrews 3:7-11 quotes Psalm 95:7-11, but it introduces the quote saying “so, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice…” That is, what the Holy Spirit said in the past, in Exodus 17 and Psalm 95, He is still saying (in Hebrews 3:7 “says” is in the present tense) when Hebrews was written. And indeed, the Holy Spirit is still saying the same thing to us today. From this we can draw a principle: what the Holy Spirit has said in Scripture, is still important for us today. Or as the author of Hebrews puts it: “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Read it again!
Therefore, when you’ve finished reading the Bible, read it again! For the Bible is God’s Word to us, it is living and active, and therefore it will teach us, rebuke us, correct us, train us in righteousness, so that we may be equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
You can read the Bible from beginning to end, but it can also be helpful to focus on particular themes and see what the Bible has to say about them. The YouVersion Reading Plans are a great tool to do so. Click here for an overview of the reading plans we have written for you, or browse the YouVersion homepage for countless reading plans on various themes.